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UK Managers feell ill-equipped to manage staff

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More than three-quarters of managers are being asked to undertake tasks without receiving appropriate training beforehand, according to an independent, global survey, commissioned by global e-learning provider SkillSoft.  In the UK and the rest of Europe, “managing people” is the task managers feel the least prepared to tackle. This fact hasn’t gone unnoticed – overall those holding managerial roles were ranked as “most in need of training” by their staff.

Kevin Young, managing director of SkillSoft EMEA said that he found these results worrying: “In the current climate it is those businesses with commitment, enthusiasm and passion for what they do that are the most likely to flourish.  However, unless employees are properly motivated and satisfied in their work, it’s difficult to see how firms can fulfil their potential. 

“Many companies overlook the need for ‘people management’ skills, concentrating instead on harder-edged business knowledge.  However, this an extremely short-term view, especially when effective strategies for coping with difficult staff situations can be easily learnt.”

In the UK alone, a significant 80% of managers said that they have had to perform tasks without receiving proper training.  When asked to rank tasks in order of concern, putting those they felt least prepared for at the top, the resulting “top ten” was:


  1. Managing people
  2. Project management
  3. Leadership
  4. Technical tasks
  5. Finance-related tasks
  6. Business-related tasks
  7. Compliance-related tasks
  8. Team working
  9. Desktop related tasks
  10. Problem-solving

To help pinpoint where skills gaps and shortages lie, respondents were asked to identify who in their organisation was in most need of ongoing training and development.  A decisive 76% of UK employees said that line managers fell into this category, with supervisors a close second at 69%. It was noticeable that this figure was far higher in the UK than in the US or the rest of Europe where respondents appeared, in general, to have more faith in their management teams.

“Overall, these results indicate that UK managers have a lack of confidence because they feel ill-equipped to do their job – and, in turn, their employees are picking up on this,” continued Young.  “Businesses need better managers now more than ever before due to today’s tough economy.  In many instances they must accomplish more with a reduced workforce or fewer resources in a more stressful environment.”

More optimistic news is that managers across the globe agree that training and development is an essential part of their organisation’s strategy.  Yet, when asked to identify the most important step their companies could take to improve learning and development opportunities, the most common plea was “allow me time to do training” followed by “introduce more training options” and “increase training budgets”.  This appeal for more time was tempered by the fact that most respondents were happy to invest some of their own time in their professional development too.

The study involved over 6,000 employees across the UK, the rest of Europe and the US working for private sector organisations of over 500 people.  Respondents working in a managerial role represented more than a third of the total sample.





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